RelayRides blogger Nicholas Pell shares the story of two members who are taking renting out their idle cars to the next level…and making a lot of extra money in the process.
Since 2010, RelayRides’ peer-to-peer carsharing marketplace has enabled car owners to make a decent amount of cash renting out their idle vehicles—the average owner is making around $250/month. However, as the marketplace matures, it seems clear that there is even greater potential to benefit from the marketplace than making a few hundred dollars a month. Two men, Dylan Rogers of Chicago and Edward Salwin of Washington, D.C., are seeing it as more than just a way to offset some of their vehicle expenses. The former is an entrepreneur always on the hunt for new revenues streams. The latter is looking for ways to change American car culture. Both are enjoying success.
Dylan Rogers is a 27-year-old entrepreneur in Chicago. “I have a corporation that covers all my business endeavors,” he explains, which primarily include real estate. “I have other sources of revenue, but it’s all under one corporation.” His corporate car isn’t too shabby: A BMW 6 Series convertible. He currently makes about $1,000 a month renting it. Not bad coin for merely owning a car.
But Rogers isn’t content to stop there. His entrepreneurial spirit has him looking at building his own microfleet of cars. In the near future, he plans to invest in SUVs and fuel-efficient vehicles, hoping to duplicate his success with the 6 Series.
Rodgers didn’t initially expect his enterprise to bear much fruit. “I was skeptical about whether or not this endeavor would produce any income,” he says candidly. “Now I get way more revenue from this income stream than I had ever expected. So if I can add other cars to my fleet and get the same results there’s no reason not to.” Comparing it to another enterprise of his, real estate, he says, “It’s simpler. There’s less overhead and there’s more money in it. It’s easy to start. It’s not complicated. It’s like renting out a condo, but much simpler and with less overhead.”
He markets a bit, but not much. Leveraging social media and Craigslist don’t take a lot of time. Rogers credits his success to the vehicle. “It’s a unique car. It has a lot of safety features and luxury features that you don’t find in a lot of other cars.” This, in turn, attracts a certain type of customer. “People refill the tank even if they don’t need to or wash the car for me.”
The Game Changer
Edward Salwin, 31, a software engineer living in Washington, D.C., has far more quotidian cars; a Corolla and a Camry. Further, he rents them out at a third of the price of Rodgers (the luxurious 6 Series is $15 an hour or $75 per day, while the thrifty Corolla and the Camry go for a mere $5 an hour or $25 a day). His desire to car share came out of his own experiences owning a car in a major urban center.
“I got out of college and realized that my car was costing me more than rent. The fact that it was so expensive blew my mind,” Salwin says. This caused him to begin thinking not about how to make money off of his car when it wasn’t in use, but how to put a downward pressure on the cost of buying, maintaining and owning a vehicle. Still, he concedes that “to lower the cost of a vehicle, it’s going to have to be economically viable.” Right now he’s only making a few hundred dollars a month, but the amount that he makes increases every month.
Salwin does this barely marketing at all. “I wanted to put a sticker on my car that read ‘borrow my car,’ but RelayRides was out, so I made my own.”
What do these two men and their businesses have in common? They’re both forward-thinking individuals who have seen the potential of peer-to-peer car sharing services. While others are just looking for ways to get a car or make a little passive income, these men are seeing an opportunity to make big bucks or change the world. Look for more microfleet entrepreneurs as RelayRides becomes more prevalent around the nation and around the world.